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Jonathan Wickham: 5 Questions That Will Save Your Business from an Online Disaster (Part II)

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Yesterday, Jonathan introduced you to the first two questions to prevent an online disaster. Now, here are the other three.

3. Is The Marketing Agency Hiding Poor Quality Work? 3 Red Herrings to Watch for
Since the dawn of online marketing there has been a customer complaint about the level of transparency. There are some classic lines I’ve heard for years that are a direct tipoff of something wrong:

  • Proprietary: “Our fulfillment is proprietary, so we can’t show you any specifics.”
  • Exact URLs Unavailable: “We’re more than happy to show you the kinds of work, but we’re not allowed to show the exact URLs.”
  • Non-Disclosure: “We’re under contract to not show any live work from current clients.”

Whether you are in a pre- or post- sales situation, you should demand to see exact URLs of finished work. If the agency gives you any kind of pushback on this requirement, you should run the other way.

Any company worth their salt will be more than happy to show you specific examples of all their work items. They will also be proactive for showing you all of the exact URLs from all of the completed action items in your fulfillment package.

4. Are You Committing to An Inferior Marketing Company? 3 Excuses Inferior Companies Hide Behind
SEO companies have been trying to bully clients into signing long contracts for years. I think this is an automatic sign that the company isn’t confident they are going to get results for your campaign. Below are a few things you might hear when talking to a sales rep.

  • Upfront Cost Excuse: “The only reason we put a contract in place is there are a lot of upfront costs with our fulfillment.”
  • Time Justification: “We only put a contract in place so the campaign has the time needed to see any significant improvement.”
  • Loss Leader Pitch: “This contract is a way to protect ourselves. We actually lose money on the campaign till the start of the 4th month.”

Service companies shouldn’t have contracts. If they provide value, customers will want to stick with their brand. These kinds of agreements are ways businesses with low quality offerings are able to stay in business.

5. How Do I Find Great Marketing Companies? Look for Those Who Practice What They Preach
This is the hands down most important way you can judge the quality of the online marketing agency. If you really look at the Internet marketing industry, you will find 80% to 90% of the websites don’t practice the majority of what they preach.

Here are the most important things you need to evaluate and the tools you’ll use to get it done.

  • How well are they doing their own content marketing?
  • How often do they post to their blog?
  • How well is the blog content written?
  • Do the topics of the blog post look engaging and relevant?
  • How impressive is their website’s design and other corporate marketing material?
  • Does it look modern and up-to-date?
  • Are they giving away eBooks and other downloadable material?
  • How does their website rank for strategic terms within their vertical?
  • How powerful is their linking profile?
  • Does the website have a high amount of domain authority?
  • Does the website have a good ratio of anchor text?
  • Is the website consistently adding new backlinks?
  • How active is the company in relevant social media networks?
  • Do they have an active social media following?
  • Does it look like their website content is being shared in strategic networks?
  • Do the profiles look professional and up-to-date?

In conclusion, having a high level of online visibility has ever been more important to both large and small businesses alike. Online marketing has become a lucrative industry that takes advantage of billions of website owners a year. You need to educate yourself so you don’t become another company exploited by the next SEO agency.

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